Category Archives: Mockers

Demanding A Sign From Heaven

Those who truly do not want to believe in Christ will ignore any sign He provides. Luke 11 documents an example where Jesus was literally expelling a demon such that a man who was mute, could now speak. Obviously some were amazed and their eyes were opened by the grace of God to seek after Christ. Others, who had already decided that Christ could not be God, look for all sorts of crazy, irrational ways to reject Him. Imagine accepting that the man was mute because of a demon and then saying that Jesus cast the demon out by Satan’s power? How foolish a logic is this… by Satan’s power someone casts out Satan’s minions? It is absurd.

They had just witnessed a sign, casting out a demon, and then some demanded… yes… a sign from heaven.  As they ignore one sign, they demand another. These men had surely already decided that Christ could not be God and they were not about to be persuaded otherwise, no matter what sign may be presented.

Jesus clearly articulates that only one stronger than Satan, namely God Himself, could overpower the demons and cast them out.

Luke 11:14-23

Pharisees’ Blasphemy

     14And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18“If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19“And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. 20“But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. 22“But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.

As you go about your daily walk and engage people for Christ, try not to be discouraged that there will be some, many, who reject the message of Christ. Many rejected Christ even as He demonstrated miracles. These same type of people will reject Christ as we present Him to them. Our role is to present the truth to others, God will have to open their eyes to accept it.

We should also take care not to overlook verse 23. Jesus highlights that there is no middle ground. You are either with Him, or against Him. You can not “sit on the fence” or be “neutral”.    With that said, let us pray the Spirit gives us the courage to engage people boldly for the sake of Christ.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

YHWH Speaks On Life and Conduct

Our Father loves us dearly. He has provided us with His word to guide us, His Spirit to fill us and help us, and the death of His son to make a way to forgive us. Let us never take that for granted, being complacent in our own way of living according to the ways of the world. The world if sinful and not righteous. Let us take His fatherly advice and change how we are living to be more like He instructs for us.

Proverbs 19

On Life and Conduct

1Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.

      2Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.

      3The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.

      4Wealth adds many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.

      5A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.

      6Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

      7All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues them with words, but they are gone.

      8He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

      9A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.

      10Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.

      11A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

      12The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.

      13A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.

      14House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.

      15Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.

      16He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of conduct will die.

      17One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.

      18Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.

      19A man of great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

      20Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.

      21Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

      22What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

      23The fear of the LORD leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

      24The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

      25Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.

      26He who assaults his father and drives his mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.

      27Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

      28A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.

      29Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

Take time and dwell on each verse. Which one or two strike you the most as relevant in your life. Pray the Lord helps you to deal with this area of your life and continue your transformation to be more like Him!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Linked By The Spirit As Followers of Yeshua

It is truly wonderful. Those of us who know Jehovah through Yeshua need not all be taught in one school to find the same truth. The Spirit leads and guides us, helping us to properly understand and live out and teach the gospel. There will be those who do not understand and who disagree on points of doctrine. We can listen and debate, but we should not yield simply to peer pressure but rather change only when we truly recognize an error in our understanding. In that way we grow wiser.

Just as Paul could visit James, Cephas, and John after 14 years and still come together in fellowship and support, so we can come together with other believers who have not been taught from a common human teacher, but from the Spirit Himself though we may have studied and lived far apart geographically.

Paul was sent to the gentiles as others were called to the Jews. They were not in competition, but collaboration. Let us work in this way with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Let us be aligned in our submission to the Spirit and in our purpose to share the gospel with all the world.

Galatians 2

The Council at Jerusalem

     1Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. 6But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8(for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

There are always mockers, who will attack those who stand firmly and clearly for Yeshua. However, there are many fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we may find almost instant fellowship through our bond as servants of the same Lord and students of the same Teacher. Though we may be called to different ministry, we can support and collaborate with one another. We are on the same team, though we may not even meet often.

Let us pray for one another and support one another as followers of Yeshua. For each of us the ministry field may be somewhat different, but we all pursue the same objective for the same Lord.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

God’s Grace and Power Are Sufficient

Whenever we stand for Christ, there will be others who stand and mock us and try to discredit us. When we stand for truth in scripture, which is so different in many ways that what is taught in churches today, even those who identify as Christians will mock us. It is often telling when they attack with harsh words, but have no scriptural argument to back up their views. It is simply what they have been told. I separate this from Christians who engage in a real dialog about the meaning and application of scripture in a rationale and loving way. They have thoughtfully considered scripture and will use it as the source of truth in discussion  and debate.

Are we to rely on our own strength against such attacks? Not at all. In fact, Paul calls us to boast in our weakness and to be content with weaknesses, insults and distresses… with persecutions and difficulties… all for the sake of Jesus Christ. When we are weak, then we are strong.  Truly God’s ways are not our ways, they are much greater.

We may always come before our Father and ask for our weakness to be removed, as Paul did. However, sometimes the answer will be “no”. We are to remember that God works through our weakness in His strength. In fact our weakness makes His strength all the more “real” when He works through us. We know it is not ourselves that have done something good, but Him working through us.

2 Corinthians 12:7-21

A Thorn in the Flesh

     7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

      11I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody. 12The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. 13For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!

      14Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. 17Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? 18I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

      19All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Are you content in your weakness? There is a difference between being content and complacent. You can try to overcome your weaknesses through prayer and study of the word and trying to change your life to be more in accord with the scriptures. However, the point is that ultimately we will all have weaknesses and often it is that which makes God’s work through us all the more powerful to others and to ourselves.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

When You Stand For Christ, Do Not Expect People to Praise You

No matter how obviously God used Paul as His servant, there have always been detractors, those who mock or speak meanly of him. To be sure, Paul was a powerful messenger of the Lord. If boasting of himself were appropriate, he would certainly have reason to boast. However, Paul remained humble in thinking and speaking of himself.

When we become disciples, or learners, after Christ and try to share the good news of the gospel with others it is a spiritual fight we are engaged in. When you stand for Christ, do not expect people to praise you. We must choose how we respond and engage, but do not do so without time in prayer with the Lord and the help of the Spirit to guide us. Unlike other religions based on men’s false beliefs, we are not to force anyone to accept and follow Christ. This would be meaningless. We have power of truth on our side. The historical facts are actually overwhelmingly supportive of the truth of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God.

We must also not change God’s instructions to His people and keep the name of “Christians”, as so many do today. They identify as Christian and then reject what scripture teaches and try to redefine God in their immoral image.  Rather they should be changing their immoral behavior to line up with God’s character and teaching. He even had it written down so as to have a record we could all access… the Bible. Rebuke and correction of our brothers and sisters who depart from truth in God’s revelation is part of the role of a true follower of Christ, as Paul demonstrated repeatedly. We rebuke because we love, not because we hate.

2 Corinthians 10

Paul Describes Himself

     1Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

      7You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, 9for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. 10For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” 11Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.

      12For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 13But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. 14For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; 15not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, 16so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. 17But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD. 18For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.

Let us live apart from the world, though in the world. Let us set a holy example for others. Boast not in yourself but in God. When we stand for Christ, we will come under attack by men… even, and at times especially, from people who identify as Christian. They want to wear the label of Christ but not live according to His teaching. Look not for the approval of wicked men who twist God’s word or even your own self approval, but rather seek the approval of the Lord as His humble servant.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Shall We Continue to Sin So That Grace May Increase?

It is a very important concept for followers of Jesus Christ to understand. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and accept His offer of salvation by grace through faith that He died for our sins, we must also recognize that we are not to abuse that grace. For us to abuse grace by intentionally continuing to sin is to not truly submit to the lordship of Christ over sin and self. It is to not truly accept His offer of salvation.

We all sin, but let us never embrace it intentionally under the excuse that His grace will cover our sins. Instead let us seek to repent from sin, to turn away from it and toward the Father. Let us die to self and sin and rise in Christ to a new life. We need His help and He will provide it to those who truly invite Him in to be Lord of their life.

Romans 6

Believers Are Dead to Sin, Alive to God

      1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

      8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

      12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

      15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

      20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I can well remember a variety of sinful habits that I seemed unable to break on my own power. The more I turned my life over to the Father, the more I sought to learn and understand His word and apply it in my life, the more the Holy Spirit has revealed Himself in my life to guide me and strengthen me in my daily walk… in rejecting sin. I have been able to turn away from habits and behaviors that had me beat and stay away. However, temptation remains a challenge, trying to draw us in. Remain vigilant and focused. Choose righteousness over sin. The rewards in this life and beyond are priceless.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Are You Wise or Foolish In The Eyes of the Lord?

Each of us must decide to whom we shall turn for knowledge and wisdom. Will we follow our own way, scoffing at God’s way, and rejecting true wisdom? If so, we will “eat the fruit of our own way” and it is often bitter.

A fool rejects reproof and wise counsel. A wise person seeks God’s wisdom, and listens well with a fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom Warns

      20Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;

      21At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

      22“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?

      23“Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

      24“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;

      25And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;

      26I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,

      27When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.

      28“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,

      29Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD.

      30“They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.

      31“So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.

      32“For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

      33“But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

Which path will you choose… that of a fool who mocks God’s instruction or that of a wise person who accepts correction and learns to follow along on God’s path.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Unrighteous Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God

All to often we are told by the culture of the world today that God loves and accepts all people regardless of behavior choices… whether they rebel against God or obey Him. The world twists scripture and reality to claim that people are born “with a tendency to sin” in a certain area and thus it is “not their fault”. Somehow, we are to believe, if someone is “predisposed” to a certain sin, then they are not expected to overcome it and turn from it. Instead we are told it is to be accepted out of love. The truth is much more clear and perhaps to some, harsh.

If I am born with poor balance and I fall often… I still get hurt. It is up to me to change my behavior to avoid the consequences of it. In this example of poor balance I should avoid walking along the edge of a roof or canyon where I may fall and die. I am responsible for my behavior.

To make it more silly… if I am born such that I will be very tall, like a basketball player… it is still up to me to make sure I adjust my behavior to avoid getting hurt by walking into the tops of low doorways or ceiling fans. The consequences are the same regardless of whether or not I have been “predisposed” to certain risk.

One area where this is still generally accepted is predisposition to alcohol or drug abuse. We do not encourage those individuals to drink and do drugs anyway… telling them it is not their fault. We encourage them to get help and change their behavior. They must choose to avoid situations that would even be tempting to them. If they drink or do drugs they still face the consequences of their actions.

The same is true of all manner of sin and we must take heed, lest we get in the habit of excusing all of it. Someone is not defined by their sin. They do not need to remain in it and accept it. It must be overcome with God’s help. To accept our sin and remain in it is to live in active rebellion to God and those who do so will not inherit the kingdom of God. Quite simply… when we actively ignore God and live in rebellion to His word it shows that we do not really believe in Him and that is a big warning sign that we are headed for hell when we die, unless we repent and submit to God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

      9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Do not be deceived. Whether or not we are predisposed to a certain sin, the consequences of actively choosing to remain in sin are the same… separation from God and eternity without Him when we die. We do no one a favor by telling them it is ok to disregard what God has told us and just to embrace and accept their sin. We obey God and show love to others by showing them the truth with gentleness and love. We help them… not by accepting them in their sin but by leading them out of it.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Patience of Our Father

Good parents exhibit patience with their children when they are learning to obey. Jehovah is no different. He is our heavenly Father. He loves His people. When He brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, He understood that they would need to learn to obey Him. He was not surprised. As such, Jehovah exhibited great patience in dealing with them as they complained and whined about Pharaoh’s army and then food and water. Each time, Jehovah protected them and provided for them.

Exodus 17:1-7

Water in the Rock

      1Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” 5Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”

Though Jehovah was patient and merciful with His people in this example, we should not take His patience for granted and we should not deliberately put Him to the test.

Luke 4:12

12And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

As we spend time with our children to teach them and help them grow, we eventually expect them to mature in their understanding, obedience, and respect.  Similarly, our Father in heaven expects this from us also. Let us strive to trust and obey our heavenly Father and praise Him for His patience with us as we grow in maturity, faith and understanding.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Know Your Audience When Sharing The Gospel

Paul was a master of identifying with his audience and meeting them where they are in order to lead them to the good news of Jesus Christ. In Acts 13, he is proclaiming the gospel to Jews studying the scriptures and worshipping God on Sabbath. As such, Paul begins in a place they already know. Paul begins in the Old Testament and shows them how the Old Testament prophets and prophecy were pointing forward to Jesus Christ as the coming Messiah. Then he shifts into the direct discussion about forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The people want to hear more. That is a success anytime we share the gospel.

Acts 13:13-43

   13Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” 16Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said,
“Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17“The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it. 18“For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness. 19“When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance—all of which took about four hundred and fifty years. 20“After these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21“Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22“After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ 23“From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, 24after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25“And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

      26“Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27“For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. 28“And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. 29“When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. 30“But God raised Him from the dead; 31and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. 32“And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’ 34As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’ 35“Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ 36“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. 40“Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:

      41‘BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH;
FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS,
A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU.’”

      42As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. 43Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

In a separate example, when proclaiming Jesus to pagans, Paul begins differently to connect with them.

Acts 17:22-34

Sermon on Mars Hill

      22So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

      32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33So Paul went out of their midst. 34But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

We should also take a lesson from Paul in that we try to understand where people are in their knowledge and acceptance of Christ and let that influence where we begin to tell them about Jesus. If they are devout Jews who understand the Old Testament, then we begin there. If they are lost and hurting in the depths of addiction or selfishness and sin… then begin there rather than with a history of the Old Testament. Our proclamation of the good news of Jesus will be much more effective if we pay close attention to where our audience is rather than just starting from our understanding of the scriptures and God’s plans.

How can you apply this truth in your life? What are some examples of where or with whom you may share the gospel (e.g. work, school, prison ministry, etc.)? How should you adapt your approach in each case?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.